Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas

This is one of my favorite Christmas pictures. One of the last we had with mom before she passed on. She was very much on my mind this time of year. We miss her.

Christmas always brings a mixture of memories and feelings for me. A number of years ago some of us were watching a Statler Brothers Christmas program and the question was posed to them as to what the best and worst Christmas was that they had ever experienced.

Someone said that was unrealistic because who would know the answer to that question?

I did know the answer.

My worst Christmas was when I lost my only sibling, my brother Trent at Christmas time only a few months after my father had passed on. I had to fight my way home that year on highways that were closed because of snow. When the highway patrol flagged me down and said I couldn't go I asked if they were making me stop? They said they couldn't do that but I told them there was no way I was going to let mom be alone on her first Christmas without dad. I made it but it was tough, then to get the news about Trent on top of that? Wasn't much Christmas cheer that year.

The best one? Just as easy. I got the chance to sit in a candlelight Christmas Eve service at the First Baptist Church in Orange, Texas, and watch both of my kids get get baptized. I can still smell the pine garlands in the windows heated by the candles and giving off a smell I still associate with Christmas. The congregation was all holding candles as well and the tears in my eyes made pinpoints of all of those delicate lights to give the scene a magical appearance. That was many, many years ago and I can still call it to mind as if it only happened yesterday.

Perhaps everyone has a best and worst, I do know that sometimes it can be a difficult time of year. If you have a 'worst' I really hope you had a faith base where the comforter was there for you to see you through it as mother and I had. And I know you had a 'best' and in all honesty I hope you've had so many that it is hard to decide which one.

As for this year? I hope you have a happy and joyous celebration of the birth of our Lord.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Did the big storm help or hurt writers?

Most of the country has been impacted at one time or another by the major cold front that has blanketed the US over the past few days. It could have impacted writers in a variety of ways. My top ten list for how it could have affected writers either in a good or a bad way:

1. It could have given writers unexpected writing time as they hunkered down to wait it out particularly if they could not get in to work

2. Conversely, it could have destroyed any chance of writing that was planned by trapping a writer home with kids, kids unable to get outside and burn off pent up energy.

3. Unexpected time at home could have caused an editor to take a look at your submission if they had access to it there. That could be good or bad depending on whether they rejected it or not.

4. If it wasn't rejected, the chances of getting a positive response (already made difficult by the ability to get decision people together during the holiday season) was made even more difficult. But at least you're out of the inbox and marked for consideration.

5. It may have kept a writer from getting to a critique group meeting when they needed the input on their WIP.

6. The power going off may have forced a writer to fall back on a Big Chief tablet and number two pencil - or may have turned off all video games and TV leaving kids unplugged  (see item 2)

7. Could writers have had more writing time if they hadn't gotten so caught up in the coverage of the storm on TV and social media?

8. Then there is the client who thought it was a negative that she didn't get the snow because she loves it! Who knew getting missed by the storm could be a bad thing?

9. Writers lured away from writing by outdoor ice activity and movies on the tube with family. Not to mention added storm related chores.

10. The weather can seep in and give you the blahs making it difficult to string 2-3 sentences together, but sometimes a fire in the fireplace or even a scented candle can chase away the blahs and set the mood for some writing time.

What am I missing? Do you have something to add where you were impacted, for better or for worse?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How much faith content?

Interesting question, and one that I proposed to my clients. I wanted each of them to rate the amount of faith content in each individual work on a scale from one to ten.

One told me their book was overtly Christian but she was unsure what that meant in a ranking on such a scale. To me the words overtly Christian puts a book in the upper half. The way I look at the scale, a ranking of “one” is little or no faith. A “five” means moderate faith content, and a “ten” means really in-your-face faith content. Those points are more-or-less black and white. For most of us we are deciding where we fall in between one and five, more toward one or toward the other or between five and ten, more toward one or the other. I believe taking the time to actually evaluate this is an important understanding for a Christian author to come to.

It is also helpful me in knowing how to represent their work. It’s no secret that Christian publishers are interested in faith content. Many mainstream publishers don’t want such content at all. Then there are publishers who fall at various points along the scale.

It is possible to have enough faith content that we rule out a number of the mainstream publishers but not enough content to interest the Christian publishers. That’s sort of a “no man’s land” in between. It doesn’t mean there is no place for a particular project, but it does mean that we have reduced the number of possibilities to a large degree.

I am looking at submissions constantly, have a large number of projects that I represent, and when you add in my senior memory it means every time I start to work on a project I have to spend a little time reminding myself what it is so I don’t confuse it with anything else. I don’t have to read the whole thing to accomplish that, just enough to be sure I’m thinking of the right manuscript. But if I have to decide how much faith content a particular work contains, that takes a lot of reading. I can save myself a huge amount of work by establishing that rating at some point and marking the work with it.

My clients seem to be learning a lot about themselves and about each other as they are going through this process and going through it on my client online group.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh yeah, turkey and dressing, side dishes, deserts and good friends to share the meal, then there is the football game coming up and . . .

and . . .

what am I thinking? Thanksgiving is not about food and football.

The name says it all. Thanksgiving is about stopping to count our blessings and to give thanks to our creator for all He has given us, and I don't know about you but Saundra and I have been blessed far beyond what we have any right to expect.

The greatest blessing, that I'm afraid we Christians too often take for granted, is the gift of our salvation. We didn't earn that and there is nothing we could do to deserve it. It is an unthinkable gift from a loving father, one we don't stop to give thanks for often enough.

Then there is our health, we are indeed blessed there. Sure, at our age we have some small issues, but overall we have been blessed in that department our entire lives.

We're blessed with family, five kids, ten grandkids, one great-grandson and yet another great grandkid on the way. What a huge blessing, and they are all happy and healthy and we are immensely grateful.

We have a nice home that is paid for and fits our needs very well. We don't have a lot of money but our finances are stable and we have what we need. Oh sure, there are things that we want, we wouldn't be human if there weren't things we'd like to have, but I can't think of a thing that we REALLY NEED that we don't have.

We really miss mom, particularly on holidays, but we console ourselves knowing how wonderfully happy she is and who she is with. Today of all days I remember a statement she made to me once, "I've never been hurt, never been mistreated, never been hungry. I've walked with the Lord all my life and it has been a wonderful life." She said something like that just months before she passed on, and thinking back on it that would pretty much go for me as well. I've had some hard times, but overall have been blessed my entire life and like mom have walked with the Lord for all of it.

I'm going to cut me off a big slice of gratitude and completely cover it with praise gravy because that is going to be my main focus today, giving thanks. And maybe having a little dressing on the side.

What have YOU got to be thankful for?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tulsa Fellowship of Christian Writers

It was a fast trip to Tulsa Oklahoma, do a program for them, a quick overnight then a drive back home. But it was a great experience.

My thanks to Lavon Hightower Lewis for acting as my host. She was delightful. I got there in time to go out to eat with her, with President Elece Hollis (who was celebrating her birthday) and with some of the officers of the group. We had a nice visit then made the drive over to the Kirk of the Hills church, which was a magnificent facility, for the meeting.

There was a nice turnout, and those in attendance were very interactive which always made doing a presentation more enjoyable. If anybody lives in the Tulsa area and you are not associated with this group, you really should be. You can find out more about the organization at The group meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 o'clock pm there at the church.

The Fellowship of Christian Writers started with a handful of writers in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area in 1979. Originally called Tulsa Christian Writers Club, they changed their name to Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW) in 1999 to reflect their growing influence outside of the geographic region. Thanks to the Internet and their Yahoo chat group, FCW has touched hundreds of writers and probably thousands of readers because of those writers' words.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Baby!

The kids are giving Saundra a special birthday today Actually it isn't her birthday, that's not for a month yet but they determined it was when everybody could get together the easiest so pretty much everybody will be here.

 Why is it special? I'll just say she is hitting a milestone and let it go at that although I will tell you that we went steady in high school, and people nearly always guess her to be 10-15 years younger than she is. In fact I have a picture of us in high school.

Saundra is my biggest supporter and makes it possible for me to do what I do, both as a writer and as an agent. When mother was alive she was a strong supporter as well and is the conduit that I got my gift for story-telling through. I haven't had to battle the lack of support that plagues many authors. They've been there for me.

That's what is on my mind as I hope you will join me in wishing her an early HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I love you, sweetheart!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Starting to write fiction

“I do want to start writing,” the author said in the workshop, “but I want to write fiction. I’m a storyteller. I’m having trouble getting started writing my stories.”
Just because somebody can cook a great hamburger doesn’t mean they are ready to open a restaurant. And just because someone can tell a great story doesn’t mean they can write those stories in a way that can be published. There are skills required to take a story into the proper written form, skills that can be mastered but ones that must be mastered to be successful.
I’m one of those writers myself. I don't consider myself a writer, but a storyteller trying to write my stories in such a way as to be entertaining. Virtually every time I tell somebody I'm a writer the people I'm talking to say, “I've always wanted to write a book,” or “I have all these great experiences that people keep telling me I should write down, “ or something of the sort. My response is always the same, “so, why haven't you?”
It is true that some may not be able to do it, but what’s the worst that can happen by trying? We end up with some cute stories we can pass down to our family. And it may well be that there will be Pulitzer Prize caliber stories that are never written because the one person who could have written them never tried.
What does it take to be a writer? You just write. That's it. A writer writes. Now to become a published writer, that takes a lot more, and to sustain yourself at it to the point where you can claim to be an author is still further up the tree. 
Do you have to wait until you get old and beat up like I am before you can start? Absolutely not. There are great markets even now that publish young writers. I published some poetry and some articles while I was still in high school. How do you get published in these markets? The same way all writers get published, you submit to them with a carefully worded letter, and you endure the rejection letters from all the places that don't want your work until you find the one that does like every other writer that ever lived. 
At any given time our work may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry. But as soon as that opportunity closes, now it only fits at one place but that place is somewhere else. It’s like the skit that used to happen at the end of the old “Laugh In” show. People opening and closing windows while trading lines. That’s a perfect picture of the publishing industry. Or for those who do not remember that old show I’m sure you have seen the whack-a-mole game. It’s the same principle.
You see, it's not always about how good the writing is - even a great piece can be too early or too late. or they just did one like it, or not a good fit for the publisher, etc. It's like assembling a puzzle, and all of the pieces have to be in place for publication to occur.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Back to Back Conferences

So, here I am sitting here in the hotel in Albuquerque waiting for the Class Christian Writer's Conference to kick off in the morning. I blogged about this conference last week. It should be a good one. When I leave here I rush home, repack, get my materials ready and head out to the next one.

The next one would be the East Texas Christian Writer's Conference put on by East Texas Baptist University and held on their beautiful campus in Marshall, Texas. This regional conference is a great bargain to stretch your conference dollar. The actual dates are October 25th and 26th.

Information, schedule, registration information, etc all are found at the website at

With a fine faculty and great facilities, this packed two day conference offers a great bargain. I've gone there a number of times and have thoroughly enjoyed it every year.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Meet me in Albuquerque

Yup, it's that time. I followed this conference when it left Glorieta NM after many years, wnet with it when it moved to the Ghost Ranch in Abique NM for several years and will now be there as it is at the First Baptist Church in Albuquerque NM on October 17-19th.

I have quite a history with this conference and I don't just mean the length of time that I have gone. Way back when I was a fledging writer it was this conference that I went to in order to see how I could follow my leading to use my writing for the Lord. If you are interested you can see my writing testimony at my personal website at - just click on the testimony button. We anjoyed this conference so much that my wife, Saundra, and my mom both went with me for years before mom passed away. Saundra usually goes to this day but has a conflict and can't make it this year.

The conference is put on by Classservices and is under the direction of my client Linda Gilden and Gerry Wakefield. Any questions you might have you will find answered at including how to get registered and the cost.

This is a great conference that I always enjoy attending. If you are a fledging writer looking for that first publication credit attendees work with industry pros during the course of the conference and get a chance to be in an anthology produced during the conference. This is one conference that you can walk away from as a published writer.

There will be chances to pitch agents and editors, for individual coaching, and the chance for a lot of networking with other writers and with industry professionals. So what are you waiting for? Go to that site now and come meet me in Albuquerque!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Changing agents

It happens, nothing is forever.

Well, nothing but our relationship with Jesus, but that's another topic.

Most of my clients have been with me a long time, some almost from when I began being an agent. They aren't just clients, they are good friends. My client group interfaces with one another and with me to the point that they are like family.

So, what's the deal about changing agents? Sometimes I realize I have tried every place I have for a client without success and no longer have anything to offer them. I realize I need to release them so they can get with a different agent that has a different set of contacts. I never want to be holding a client back instead of helping them move forward. I don't have to take this step often but occassionally it happens. It is sad for all concerned when it does, but hopefully it works out to be what is best for the client.

Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and a client decides they want another agent that can open doors for them that they feel I am not opening. Hopefully they are correct and find what they are looking for. Once again it is sad for all concerned but hopefully works out to be what is best for the client. This hasn't happened often either, but when it does . . . well, I don't want clients that are not happy being with me. I want what is best for the author.

I did a blog before about how getting with an agent is a lot like dating. There has to be a fit, a relationship. The author and agent have to be happy with each other and the relationship has to work. Changing agents then is like a couple breaking up with each other. If the relationship doesn't work, if the author is not being represented as well as they want or the agent wants, then things have to change. I get that.

I am blessed with the client group that I have. My clients are all required to be in an online group in order to give me the ability to pass information to them all at once. It also gives them the ability to communicatate with each other in a closed group not open to outsiders if they choose that side of it and most do choose to do that. Theve've gotten very close to one another, pray for each other and support each other. And I maintain close contact with them  via that group.

But sometimes it is time to move on. And as the old song says . . . "Breaking up is hard to do."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Realiism in writing?

I just read an article about a bunch of PETA activists who showed up a motorcycle event throwing water balloons filled with red water to protest them wearing leather. Bikers are sensitive people and protective of their leather which they consider the only attire that can truly handle the wind and cold when riding. The title of the article was "When you mess with the bull - you get the horns." I don't know what they expected to happen but police found them wrapped in duct tape and thrown in dumpsters, and one hapless soul was duct taped to a tree and used for a urinal. I'm thinking that they just did not think this through before protesting this group and should have stuck to little old ladies wearing animal fur.

Why am I talking about this? Because it reminded me how often I see things in real life that simply would not be believable if written into a book. It happens all the time.

Getting the realism right without becoming unbelievable to readers can be a problem. Back in my early writing days I had a New York editor reject me because the western-themed book I was pitching that had some rodeo scenes in it was "just not how cowboys would talk in a rodeo." When I asked if she had ever been to a rodeo she said no. I've ridden in them, and even put one on for five years as the event manager. Which one of us would you guess would know more about appropriate dialogue?

I was, of course, but actually she was right. As I learned more about the craft I learned that we should never try to 'reproduce' dialogue but should hint at it. Large stretches of dialogue in a heavy brogue gets very tiresome to read very quickly. I would have gotten that explanation, but telling me I didn't know how they talk was not the right way to put it. But again, too much realism can put editors off and cause a project to be rejected.

I would love to see some feedback on this. What have you seen in real life that people simply would not believe if we made it up and wrote it into our books?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'll miss being at the ACFW Conference but I have a conflict, and the agency will be well represented with Joyce, Jim and Linda.

But it is less than a month until I am on the road again headed to the 2013 Class Christian Writing Conference in Albuquerque NM. This is the conference that I have attended the longest, starting as a fledging writer nearly 20 years ago when it was in Glorieta. When it moved to The Ghost Ranch in Abique NM I moved with it and Saundra and Mom started going with me.

It was at this conference that I actually came to terms with how I would use my faith in my writing ( detailed in my writing testimony at ). Mom has passed on, but Saundra will be with me as the conference undergoes another change and will be held at The First Baptist Church in Albuquerque October 17-19th. Linda Gilden and Gerry Wakefield do a terrific job with it and I always enjoy working with it very much.

A unique feature of this conference is the fact that they produce an anthology with the participants each year so if you are a beginning writer looking for an early publishing credit you can leave the conference not only having had a great educational and training experience, but with a publishing credit in hand.

You can find more information and a registration form at where you will also find the faculty, the schedule, and all of the information you need about the conference. They have a special deal going right now, and if you are registered for the conference and want to refer a friend as well, you can earn a $50 Amazon Gift card in the process.

It's a great conference, and I hope to see you there.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Writing Resource Links

I've had a huge library of writing links here on my personal website at for many years. I have them separated by topic and a lot of my writing friends use it often. I originally put it there not only for that reason but so I could easily access it myself anytime and anywhere.

I'm afraid I don't have time to maintain it as I should but there are still a lot of good links there. These days the maintenance is being done by users who write me to say a link no longer works or to suggest a new link to be included. I get a lot of these from teachers who say their students are using the list. That makes me happy.

Many of the links are not an individual site but rather a list of links itself. I just had one suggested to me that is just that, a very good list of history site resources. The site is at and was suggested by Mary Hubbard who manages the content for the site. Their list of resources is much more exhaustive than the history links that I've placed there.

I did an estimate once that between the number of links I have collected there and the number of links that are on the various resource lists that are there that something over 10,000 writing related links can be accessed from that library. Small wonder that I don't have time to get in there and maintain the list and still have time to service my clients.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The passing of client Dianne Price

Client Dianne Price went to be with the Lord last night. She is enjoying a joyous homecoming but our thoughts and our prayers are with her family. My entire client group and myself have committed to getting the word out on her delightful WWII romance series and we will be honored to follow through on that committment. She passed on just a week shy of being able to hold that first book in her hand but content in the knowledge that her publisher is going to publish the entire six book series and her friends and fellow writers are going to see that people find out about them, You may leave messages to her family at

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meet you in Atlanta?

Will be on the road headed to the "Catch the Wave" Christian Writer's Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference is August 22-24th at the Lodge at Simpsonwood and is put on by the Christian Authors Guild. I've been there once before and it is a beautiful facility and a great place for a conference.

I have a little more expanded role this time as I'm going to set the tone for the conference in an opening talk on "Just Say Yes." Decisions that we make take on a whole new meaning when we realize that there are only two answers when we come to realize that the Lord wants us to do something, yes or no. Later, maybe, I'm not qualified, I can't do it, are just forms of saying no. We'll talk about what this means for writers . . . and just for Christians in general.

I'll be doing appointments, of course, and doing a workshop on "Developing a writer's persona" as well as one on "Agent and Editor pet peeves." I'll be speaking in the closing session as well, talking about, talking about "Why do we write?"

Hopefully there is something in these for everybody and the remainder of the conference content is very strong with presenters like Cindy Sproles, cofounder and Executive Director of Christian Devotions Ministries, Faye Lamb, acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group, and Stacy Robinson of the Robinson Talent Agency. Others are bestselling author Lynette Easton, publicist and media specialist ReAnn Ring, and Pix-N-Pens publisher Tracy Ruckman.

The conference is very affordable and a great opportunity to network and learn, particularly convenient for those who live in the Southeast. I hope I get the chance to meet you there.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Why do I insist on email subissions?

The quick answer is that I do almost all of my work online and very seldom have a need for a hard copy print out these days. A hard copy manuscript is practically useless to me. Besides that I tend to lose them. I toss them in the inbox in the study along with a bunch of junk mail, and they can get away from me. I seldom work there, mostly I work wherever my computer is, so I don't get in there to dig them out and deal with them often. I don't feel all that bad about it because our submission guidelines say I don't take hard copy submissions at all. Authors should NEVER submit without checking submission guidelines, so if I get one, I figure I'm dealing with someone that doesn't follow instructions anyway.

Most editors I'm working with prefer to work electronically, so I need clients that will work with me in that manner. A person that tells me they don't know how to do attachments or they seldom email might as well be telling me they deliver handwritten manuscripts. I need people who are keeping up with the changing technology of the industry. A contract for one of my clients calls for delivery of a hard copy manuscript. That client is ready to send the final manuscript but when I checked with the editor to be sure, she said even though the contract calls for hard copy, she'd rather have it electronically. Exactly what I'm talking about, I want to see how well a submitting client handles the technology.

A lot of editors and agents don't want any attachments to an email. Some want electronic submissions but want it all in the body of the email, no attachments. Others, like me, don't want hard copy submissions and do want them as an attachment, not in the body of the email. Some will take hard copy submissions and some, like me, don't.

These differences point up why it is so important to check the submission guidelines before we send to anybody. Those who don't want attachments probably are concerned about them containing viruses. I understand that. I have massive virus protection and several layers of backups, but understand at some point that I will have a problem. It's a cost of doing business.

A proposal in the body of an email is not a virus threat either, but I prefer them attached as a single word or .rtf file because I like to see if the writing is properly formatted, and if it's a project I like it is easier for me to use it as a base to build an agency proposal on. I actually am evaluating the proposal, whether it provides what we ask for in our submission guidelines at and whether we can see how well it would give us what we need to market the project as much as we are looking at the writing itself.

So often at conferences I hear people say "I don't see why they ask me to submit like this, or any reason a proposal needs to contain that, or some other facet called for in guidelines." We ask for a little more in a proposal than some others but we would rather have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Other Hartline agents (and other agents in general) may accept things differently. I can't say it enough, we should never submit to anyone without checking their submission guidelines to see if we are sending what they would like to have in the manner they would like to see it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Every writer wants to be published

That's a true statement, right?

I think it is, why would someone spend many months or even years writing a book and not want anyone to see it?

Why indeed?

But if it is true why do people come to appointments at conferences, get a proposal invited on their project, then never send it? Why do they stick them in a drawer and never send them in? I still do think these writers would like to see it published, so what's the deal?

It could be a lot of things. Maybe they don't think it's good enough. Or maybe it really isn't good enough but they aren't taking the steps they need to take to grow their craft and MAKE it good enough. Or maybe they don't do it because they can't or don't want to do the things that would be required to go out and publicize the book if it were to be in print. There are probably other reasons, but these occur to me right off the top.

Probably the biggest one that I hear, however is fear of failure. I can identify with that. There have been times in my life that I haven't tried something because I was afraid I would fail. And if I did? What would have happened, someone would laugh at me? I might lose some money? When I thought it through, the downside was never that big.

But there's another way to look at it. Writing something and never submitting it IS failure. Submitting it and risking rejection is taking a chance on success.

Or maybe the writer HAS tried a couple of submissions and gotten turned down. There surely is rejection involved in submissions, but it isn't something to take personally. Our work either fits an available slot at a publisher or it doesn't. Not only is such a rejection not about us as a writer, it probably isn't even about how good the writing is, but rather about the fit to the market. I don't even call them rejections, I call them a 'negative market reports.'

At any given time our work may only match up with one opportunity in the whole publishing industry. The trick is to find that open window and get our work in it before it closes. Then our work may only fit one other place but now it's a different window that we have to find. I spend most of my time looking for open windows for my clients.

It is true we should not make a submission until our work is as good as we can make it and equally as true that we should continue to grow in our craft until we are a good fit for one of those open windows. But there comes a time when we have to stick our neck out and send our baby out into the world and try for publication.

That's what writing is all about, isn't it?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meet client Dianne Price

Dianne is a great author of the “Thistle Series,” a six book historical fiction series set in Scotland against a backdrop of WWII American Air Force pilots. She has been Terry’s client for about a year but when they recently found that she is losing her battle with cancer, things kicked into high gear.

In stepped Christina Tarabochia, publisher of Ashberry Lane Publishing. Christina had already edited Dianne’s books and loves them. She immediately offered a contract and has put everything aside to get these books to press. The first title is “Broken Wings” and will be releasing soon.

Terry’s client group rallied behind Dianne in a strong outpouring of love, prayers and support. They are poised to jump in and help promote the book as soon as it releases. This blog repeats on facebook and twitter, and I know there are a lot of other people who know and love Dianne and will jump in and help give this book an amazing launch. Dianne has strong faith and is very comfortable about her situation but we are all strongly committed to seeing her realize her dream beginning to come about while she can enjoy it. I’d love to see a groundswell of word-of-mouth support.

And the books deserve it. Beautifully written and edited, “Broken Wings” cover copy reads as follows:

A tragic childhood has turned lukewarm believer American Air Forces career officer, Colonel Rob Savage, into an outwardly indifferent loner who is afraid to give his heart to anyone.

RAF Nurse Maggie McGrath, a mature Christian, has always dreamed of becoming a nurse, falling in love, and settling down in a thatched cottage to raise a croftful of bairns. She is living the first dream, but the war has taken her far from Innisbraw, her tiny Scot’s island home.

Hitler’s bloody quest to conquer Europe seems far away when Rob and Maggie are sent to an infirmary on Innisbraw to begin his rehabilitation from disabling injuries. There, they find themselves caught in a battle between Rob’s past, God’s plan, and the evil some islander’s harbor in their souls. In Satan’s world, which will triumph?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

By the time you read this I'll be at the lake camping in our RV.

Looking forward to getting away, and I hope you have a great celebration planned as well.

As I do I'm mindful of those who are serving and putting themselves on the line for us to keep that freedom that our forefathers fought and died to give us and who have continued to fight to preserve down through the years. Every time I see active duty military personnel I try to go thank them for their service.

They are doing their part. I did my part in the Army in my day. But as they put themselves on the line for us, are we still doing our part? All battles are not fought with a gun.

I don't mean to get political, but our country is changing in ways that our forefathers would never have approved of. We are going in directions that are actually reversing what they fought to give us. As I said, this is not about politics, in fact I'm a lifelong independent, I support neither political party. This is about morals and values and about continuing to support the things that made this country great.

As our military personnel put their lives on the line for us can't we at least hold the line for them? Shouldn't we stand up and be counted supporting the values that America has always stood for?  It isn't all about fireworks, ice cream and hot dogs, it's about freedom and we are watching it slowly erode to an all-powerful government that wants to control every aspect of our lives.

That's what's on my mind this Independence Day. Is that a writing related topic? To me it is. Our troops are defending us with guns and bullets. We're armed with words. I'd like to see more people make that ammunition count.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hat etiquette

People may not remember me, but they tend to remember the hat. And it’s such a beautiful hat. I have a lot of them but it is the top of the line that I only wear at conferences and special events. It is part of my persona, part of how I present myself to perform the role of a literary agent.

Ladies love when I tip my hat to them and often comment on it. It was how I was raised and is a common act where I come from. This act of showing respect is handed down from the days of medieval knights who used to raise the visor hiding their face to show friendliness. That's also where the military salute came from.

I was at a conference in Canada and they were interested that I wore my hat at meals. I told them that came from the days when guys used to hang their hats on pegs by the front door, but when they started getting stolen a lot they started wearing them to eat. Also, good western hats are very expensive and since it harms them to set them brim down they have to be set upside down on the crown. The floor can be dirty in public eating places. If there is a nice safe place for it I will probably remove it. I told them it was part of a “hat etiquette” and that caused an impromptu workshop on just what was involved in “hat etiquette.”

Yes, we do tip our hats to ladies and remove it to talk to one. We don’t tip our hat to men as that would be akin to calling them a woman.

No, we do not wear our hats in church and remove it at any other time and clutch it to our chest if we pray. For some religions just the opposite is true and the head must be covered in a church. A woman may wear a hat in church.

Yes, we remove them in a theater for obvious reasons.

No, we don’t wear them in the house.

Yes, if we are in trouble we toss them in the front door. If it is not thrown back out it is safe to follow it in.

No, we don’t wear them in an elevator, unless it is very crowded.

Absolutely we remove it for the national anthem and when our flag is passing as well as when a hearse passes in a funeral possession.

Yes, in a church a woman may wear their hat as well as for the above occasions. Why the difference? Historically, men’s hats are easily removed but women’s hats have been not so easily removed. If a woman is wearing a baseball hat or a hat similar to what a male wears they are subject to the same rules as men except they don’t tip their hats to anyone.

No, we don’t toss them on a bed, that is considered bad luck. I don’t know the origin of that one.

Removed hats are held in such a way that only the top and the brim are visible, never the lining.

No, I mentioned we do not set them brim down. That can ruin the shape of the brim which is usually lower in front and back than on the sides. Also, there is a gentle curve to the hatband that causes it to conform more comfortably to the head and that can be damaged by setting it brim down.

Yes, we have to send it through a scanner at an airport.

No, we don’t like to, those things are dirty.

Yes, they keep off the sun and the rain but we don’t like to get our best hats wet. Who wants a speckled hat and if they get wet enough, well, they are felt after all and we sure don’t want a floppy hat.

No, it is not good etiquette to touch another person’s hat.

Yes, some of the ‘rules’ are regional in nature and vary in different parts of the country. And in parts of the country some of the rules don’t seem to apply to baseball hats.

No, we do not wear them at an outdoor wedding. We do occasionally have western weddings where the groom wears his hat and if that is the case the audience may follow suit.

Yes, we tip the hat as a response when a lady thanks us for rendering assistance or some courtesy.

And finally, yes, a good hat can last many years and is often passed down to children or grandchildren. The wearing of hats seems to be making a comeback but the younger generation has grown up without knowing this etiquette in many parts of the country. In our part of the country . . . not so much.